1. A D.U.I. and a D.W.I. are different.
Answer: FALSE, in New Jersey, they are the same thing
2. A DUI/DWI is just another traffic ticket, not that serious, and it's not worth the expense of hiring an attorney.
Answer: DEPENDS. The decision to hire an attorney is a personal one that only a person facing such a charge can make. However, before someone makes that decision, they should be aware of the potential consequences of a conviction. Although not treated as a criminal offense, as it is in other States, a DUI/DWI is a very serious charge, and even a first offense can lead to incarceration, especially if there is an accident with personal injury involved. A third offense carries a mandatory jail term of 180 days, regardless of any accident or injury. In addition, a DUI/DWI carries a minimum 3-12 month loss of license for a even a first offense, and this increases to two years for a second and ten years for a third conviction.However, the fines, surcharges and increase in insurance premiums are substantial. The surcharge is $1000.00 a year for three years. Believe it or not, in New Jersey there are no motor vehicle points assessed for a DUI/DWI, but there are insurance points assessed by insurance companies. Your insurance company could drop your coverage, or the increase in insurance premiums can be in the thousands. As a side note, if you have a C.D.L. (Commercial Drivers License) the standard of proof is lower and the penalties are higher.
3. I can simply plea bargain a DUI/DWI down to a lesser charge.
Answer: FALSE. New Jersey does not allow a plea bargain in DUI/DWI cases. The only dispositions available for a DUI/DWI are a guilty plea, guilty or not guilty verdict by a trial or a dismissal if you can convince the prosecutor and the Court that they don't have sufficient evidence to prove the case. There is no probation or other such program available.
4. Even if my license is suspended, I'll still be able to drive to work.
Answer: FALSE. New Jersey does not give a work license, allowing your to drive to work, during your period of suspension. If your license is suspended, you will have to find another means of transportation. If your job requires driving, you'll be unable to drive for your job as well. As such, a DUI/DWI conviction has resulted in may people losing their jobs.
5. If my license is suspended in New Jersey, I can just get one in another State.
Answer: FALSE. If your license is suspended in New Jersey, you may not drive in New Jersey, no matter from what State you obtained your license. Further, 45 out of the 50 States participate in a Compact that shares drivers information. Once you're convicted in New Jersey, your home State will be notified, and if you apply for a license in another State they will most likely deny your application, or suspend it once they learn of your N.J. suspension.
6. Its hopeless to fight a DUI/DWI, they cant be won.
Answer: FALSE. What most people don't understand is that there are various stages in the process that can be challenged, as examples here are a few: (a) did the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop you; (b) did he have reasonable suspicion to ask you to perform the field sobriety tests?; did he explain and demonstrate them properly for you?: did you actually fail them?; did you have medical or other problems that prevented you from performing the tests? (c) were you given the required the proper warnings and notices; (d) was the Alcotest machine working properly?; (e) was the Alcotest performed correctly?
These are just a few examples of areas where a DUI/DWI can be challenged and, in each area, there are many sub-issues that arise. So, the answer is, that although DUI/DWI are tough cases, an attorney experienced in such cases is in the best position to evaluate your case and assist you.
With over 26 years experience, I've handle hundreds of DUI/DWI cases. If you, a friend or family member have questions about a DUI/DWI, don't hesitate to contact me.
All the best!
Randy C. Redden